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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 2-21-2017

Washington Times, February 21, 1917:

A verdict in favor of the St. Louis American League Baseball Company was returned [in St. Louis] today in the suit of James C. Reach against the company for $15,000 damages. Reach alleged that while at a game last August he was led from his seat by an usher who charged him with having taken a baseball which was knocked into the stand.

To give this lawsuit some perspective, $15,000 was the amount that the greatest pitcher on Earth, Grover Cleveland Alexander, was struggling to pry from the Phillies as an annual salary.

That was always going to be an uphill battle for Mr. Reach. In fact, this lawsuit is where the term “reach” comes from, meaning “to attempt something ill-advised and unlikely to work”*.

* - This derivation is not in any way true.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: February 21, 2017 at 10:47 AM | 10 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history, lawsuits

Monday, February 20, 2017

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 2-20-2017

Tacoma Times, February 20, 1917:

Bill Pickens has made Grover Cleveland Alexander an offer which ought to help big Alex land the $15,000 salary he wants, regardless of whether he accepts it.

Pickens has devised a scheme, whereby a circus he represents is to retain Alexander at $1,000 a week for 35 weeks. He will do a freak baseball stunt inside the tent and later will exhibit his prowess by defending the circus’ offer to give $50 to anyone who can make a base hit off him.

This would have been a tough offer to pass up. $35,000 was 75% more than the salary of the highest paid player in baseball in 1917.

The first player to make more than $35,000 was Babe Ruth in 1922, who undeniably had a better year than President Harding.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: February 20, 2017 at 10:27 AM | 12 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, grover cleveland alexander, history

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Remember 1967 and the impossible dream - The Boston Globe

Although I was too young in the 1967 to remember any details, I believe my great love of baseball is directly tied to the Red Sox success that year. After suffering bad teams for years, my father was so excited by the Red Sox that year that he held game-watching parties though most of the summer. All that excitement surely caught the interest of the three-year old me.

Jim Furtado Posted: February 19, 2017 at 11:18 AM | 19 comment(s)
  Beats: history, impossible dream, red sox

Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Glory of Their Times—Special Edition - YouTube

H/T to John Thorn for sharing on Twitter.

Jim Furtado Posted: February 18, 2017 at 08:12 AM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: history, video

Friday, February 17, 2017

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 2-17-2017

The Daily Missoulian, February 17, 1917:

[D.F.] McGowan is a member of the legal staff of District No. 1 of the United States Forest Service. He has devised a new method of determining the “standing of the clubs” and will presently submit it to the consideration of the baseball magnates.
...
[An excerpt from the McGowan Plan:] The playing season is to be divided into periods corresponding to calendar months. During each of these periods the relative standing of the clubs is to be computed as at present, by averages of games won and lost…The team with the highest average for a period is, in an eight-club league, to be credited with eight points. The second team is to be given seven; the third, six; the fourth and fifth, five; the sixth, seventh and eight, four each.

I’ve got a counterproposal: If you win a game, you get a point. If you lose, you get no points. At the end of the season, the team who won the largest percentage of possible points is awarded the pennant.

The entire McGowan Plan is printed on the linked page. It’s all kinds of crazy.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: February 17, 2017 at 09:58 AM | 7 comment(s)
  Beats: crazytown bananapants, dugout, history

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 2-16-2017

El Paso Herald, February 16, 1917:

BALL PLAYERS TO BE SOLDIERS

American Leaguers Will Be Given Instruction in Handling a Gun This Spring

American league baseball parks during the playing season are to be turned into military training camps and the players are to devote one hour a day to instruction. The league has adopted a resolution which provides that the players shall shoulder rifles as well as baseball bats.

They’re looking at you, Dave Davenport.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: February 16, 2017 at 11:06 AM | 3 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history, world war i

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 2-15-2017

Washington Times, February 15, 1917:

Beaten to a frizzle, the baseball players’ fraternity quietly expired last night, when the leader called off the strike and released the men from their pledges. The fraternity was struggling for air after the National League club owners on Tuesday had wiped it off the books and had exposed the real cause for hold-up.

This body blow, which was delivered in spite of frantic requests from the fraternity for a hearing, made the strikers wilt. Many of them were in open revolt against the fraternity when they arose yesterday morning and found that the public had been informed that greed for gold was the real reason for the walkout.

Well, heck, the owners had been saying all along that the players were just being greedy. That’s labor negotiation PR 101.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: February 15, 2017 at 10:11 AM | 10 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 2-14-2017

El Paso Herald, February 14, 1917:

Dave Davenport, of the St. Louis Americans pitching staff, was seriously wounded at his home in Runge, Texas, today when his rifle was accidentally discharged. Davenport had just returned from a hunt. The bullet passed through his chest and also inflicted a scalp wound.

Davenport must have recovered fairly quickly, because he led the American League with 39 starts in 1917.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: February 14, 2017 at 09:46 AM | 13 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, guns, history

Monday, February 13, 2017

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 2-13-2017

Grantland Rice via the Philadelphia Evening Ledger, February 13, 1917:

“The moist ball must go.”—Governor [and National League president] Tener. That in itself will be no great deprivation. We can ramble along in the absence of the concrete fact.

But, in the spicy literature of the game, what new phases are to take the places of those employed to denote the spitball’s flight? What will take the place of “Damp Fling,” “Saliva Shoot,” “The Dripping Drop,” “The Moistened Hurl,” “The Foamy Fadeaway,” “The Slippery Shoot,” “The Soppy Dip,” etc.—thrilling phrases that have buoyed us up since Jack Chesbro and Harry Howell first broke in as masters of the gum-fed delivery?

We can do without the spitball in the game, but how can we survive this blighting deficit from the game’s literature? That, Governor, is decidedly another affair.

I really like the term ‘Damp Fling’. It’s whimsical and a bit gross, not unlike the spitball itself.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: February 13, 2017 at 11:49 AM | 24 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history, spitball, the damp fling

Friday, February 10, 2017

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 2-10-2017

Chicago Eagle, February 10, 1917:

[Tacoma infielder] Fred McMullin came in from third on the dead run and slid for the plate. McMullin knew he didn’t touch it, but he was afraid to slide back as the catcher had the ball in his hand.
...
“He wasn’t safe, was he?” demanded Cadman, who was catching for Seattle. The umpire shook his head. At this, Cadman, holding the ball in his hand, dashed over to the Tacoma bench to tag McMullin. Fred waited until he all but reached his end of the bench, and then slid over to the other end.

Cadman followed him, and as he did so slipped on some mud and fell to his knees. McMullin leaped up from his seat, sprinted to the plate, and touched it.

The umpire called him safe.

What happens if neither the runner nor catcher realize home plate wasn’t touched? Does the ump refuse to continue play until the players figure out what happened?

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: February 10, 2017 at 09:56 AM | 20 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history, rules

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 2-9-2017

Tacoma Times, February 9, 1917:

Ban Johnson, American president, and Chas. Weeghman and Owner Comiskey of the Cubs and White Sox, respectively, approve the “preparedness plan” of Captain Houston, part owner of the Yankees.

Houston, who saw service in the Spanish-American fracas, and comes by his title honestly, plans for an hour or more each day to be devoted to military training in the federal camps. Trench digging and other military maneuvers, under the direction of an army officer, would help greatly to put the athletes in condition.

Trench Davis approves.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: February 09, 2017 at 10:08 AM | 10 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 2-8-2017

Ogden Standard, February 8, 1917:

John E. Powers, president of the Los Angeles baseball club and a patient in a hospital [in Chicago], still is ignorant that his mother died [two days ago] at the family residence, not far from the hospital.
...
Early Monday morning of this week he was stricken with appendicitis. While an operation was successful, he has not been informed by his mothers’ [sic] death.

That’s messed up. I hope someone broke the news to him before the funeral, at least.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: February 08, 2017 at 10:58 AM | 25 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 2-7-2017

New York Sun, February 7, 1917:

In connection with comment by nine big league pilots on proposed changes it is interesting to note reasons assigned for the falling off in batting.
...
[Lee] Fohl points out the fact that these days clubs carry more pitchers than they did back in the old days of the famous sluggers. This, of course, enables pitches to take more rest between games, and furthermore permits managers to remove a man who is going badly and try another.

Hindsight is 20/20, of course, but I love that the talking point of the 1916-1917 offseason was changing rules to increase offense. Babe Ruth and Rogers Hornsby were just sort of sitting there saying “We got this”.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: February 07, 2017 at 11:19 AM | 3 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

Monday, February 06, 2017

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 2-6-2017

The [Pendleton] East Oregonian, February 6, 1917:

[Braves owner] Percy Haughton started it when he declared the offensive side of baseball needed some changes, and then outlined a few. Now they’re all doing it.
...
One of the most recent suggestions along these lines is that a pitcher not be allowed to pitch his first two balls to the batter in the curve fashion. Each of the first two heaves should be straight and above board, it is contended.

Every time I think I’ve seen the dumbest possible rule change to goose offense, I see something dumber. I’m with [former Red Sox manager] Bill Carrigan, quoted in the Ottumwa Courier:

You don’t hear many managers or umpires recommending that this or that rule be changed, do you?...Fans like the game as it is today. When they start complaining it will be time to consider what changes should be made.

At least somebody was being sensible.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: February 06, 2017 at 11:11 AM | 7 comment(s)
  Beats: bad ideas, crazytown bananapants, dugout, history, rules

Friday, February 03, 2017

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 2-3-2017

Chicago Eagle, February 3, 1917:

Bill Byron, the singing umpire, who says there hasn’t been a single kick against his decisions since October, tells a new story on himself.
...
He umpired in Newark one day and in the course of the game he called a man out at the plate on a close play. The player arose, dusted off his uniform, and then pointing to the chimney which towers high over the field, he said to Byron: “Bill, I ain’t sayin’ nothin’ to you. I ain’t makin’ no kick or nothin’, but I hope that that chimney falls on you and hits you one brick at a time.”

Bill says the hope was so soothing and so original that he did not put the player out of the game.

If I were the umpire, not only would I not have ejected the guy, I’d have had difficulty keeping a straight face.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: February 03, 2017 at 12:31 PM | 6 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history, umpires

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 2-2-2017

Seattle Star, February 2, 1917:

Severance of diplomatic relations with Germany, in the opinion of President Weeghman of the Cubs, would not mean the discontinuance of organized baseball for a season.

But Weeghman believes it would be the signal for a general retrenching all along the line in the majors. Training camps might be abandoned, and players who have not returned signed contracts probably would face a further cut in salaries.

“Just at present, it looks like a tough baseball season,” Weeghman said. “I have not feared the players strike at any time, but it will be different should business be affected by war.”

World War I obviously had profound effects on MLB, but it’s awfully convenient that Weeghman used it as an opportunity to subtly threaten unsigned players.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: February 02, 2017 at 12:14 PM | 11 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history, world war i

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 2-1-2017

Butte Daily Post, February 1, 1917:

Walter Johnson, pitcher for the Washington American League club, narrowly escaped death by drowning a few days ago, it was made known [in Coffeyville, KS].

While hunting coons with a party of friends at night, Johnson attempted to cross a river on the ice. The ice broke and although a strong swimmer, his heavy hunting clothes so impeded his efforts that it was impossible to keep his head above the surface for any length of time.

The timely arrival of a companion saved him. Johnson is none the worse for his experience.

And that companion was a time traveler named Nomar Garciaparra.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: February 01, 2017 at 10:21 AM | 29 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history, walter johnson

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

215 Montague Street

I was delighted to speak yesterday at the site of the Brooklyn Dodger offices at 215 Montague Street. Chevrolet sponsored a four-stop baseball tour for media types who would be driven (or themselves drive) an electric-powered Chevy Volt to each site after the starting point of the MLB Fan Cave. Not knowing that I would be speaking outdoors in full sun for the second stop on the trail, I had prepared a 15-minute talk that stayed in my pocket; sunstroke made for poor public relations, I figured. I winged it, but this is the talk I would have offered. Portions of it are based on an article that Jules Tygiel and I published in SPORT Magazine in June 1988.

Jim Furtado Posted: January 31, 2017 at 08:51 PM | 9 comment(s)
  Beats: branch rickey, history, jackie robinson

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 1-31-2017

Pittsburgh Gazette Times, January 31, 1917:

President John K. Tener of the National League said today that he will submit to the joint rules committee which meets [in New York] next month a recommendation to increase the width of the home plate from 17 to 18 inches and send a batsman to first base on three balls instead of four. Such a change in rules he declared, would bring about the desired increase in batting.

A four-ball walk is sacred in 2017, but was less than 30 years old when Tener designed this proposal. I’m happy they didn’t go through with it, but it wouldn’t have seemed too insane to the people back then.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: January 31, 2017 at 11:00 AM | 13 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history, rules, walks

Monday, January 30, 2017

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 1-30-2017

Norwich Bulletin, January 30, 1917:

Rule alterations [to help batters] might have the desired effect, yet the best plan ever offered for the bettering end of baseball, as the writer views it, was proposed 10 years ago, by Billy Fox, then second baseman for the Lincoln baseball club…

The Fox foul line, starting from the home plate, would pass first base a foot outside the sack. On a field in which the outfield fence is 360 feet distant from the plate, the Fox foul line would be four feet outside the old standard.

Billy Fox argued that in almost every ball game the batters hit line drives and sharp grounders or lay down bunts which go foul only by inches; he maintained that as much batting skill is required to hit one of these drives which goes foul by a slender margin as in lining the leather onto safe territory within the present lines.

What a terrible idea. If you move the foul lines, you’ll still have batted balls that just barely land in foul territory. It’s just that they’ll be different batted balls. That’s not a bug, that’s a feature. If you don’t want foul balls, play cricket.

Jeez.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: January 30, 2017 at 10:38 AM | 33 comment(s)
  Beats: bad ideas, dugout, history, rule changes

Friday, January 27, 2017

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 1-27-2017

Albuquerque Journal, January 27, 1917:

President William F. Baker, of the Philadelphia National league club, [yesterday] made public a letter sent to Grover Cleveland Alexander, the club’s star pitcher, refusing the player’s demand for a three-year contract at $15,000 a year. Mr. Baker told Alexander he was “astonished” at his demand, and that an offer of $8,000 a year still stood and “would not be increased to any great amount.”

Ty Cobb made $20,000 in 1917, Tris Speaker made $15,000, and Walter Johnson made $16,000. In the context of the era, it seems completely reasonable that the greatest pitcher on the planet would ask for $15K.

Anyway, Alexander ended up signing for $12,500. The Phils, correctly guessing that Ol’ Pete would be drafted into the army in 1918 (and presumably unhappy with his salary) traded him to the Cubs after the season for Mike Prendergast, Pickles Dillhoefer, and $55,000. Chicago won the 1918 pennant and Philadelphia finished in the first division exactly once in the next 30 years. But, hey, they saved some money.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: January 27, 2017 at 10:29 AM | 11 comment(s)
  Beats: cheapskate, dugout, history, pete alexander

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 1-26-2017

Washington Times, January 26, 1917:

[American Association president T.J. Hickey says] Lollypop stuff has drained diamond dramas of blood and thunder and David Fultz’s frat chariot is fast being deserted by minor league players who want some real baseball again.
...
“I want to see teams go after each other with hammer and tongs to win; see blood in their eyes when they come on the field; see them at dagger points from first to last instead of taking it out of the umpires.

“This frat business has made ball players too room-matey.”

...because abusing umpires was a new, post-Fultz phenomenon. It never happened before the players attempted to unionize.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: January 26, 2017 at 10:16 AM | 14 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history, lollypop stuff

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 1-25-2017

Pittsburgh Gazette Times, January 25, 1917:

In disposition [Frank Schulte] is droll, and he probably wouldn’t become excited if he fell out of an aeroplane. His mind poise at the plate is the same.
...
[While a member of the Cubs of the nineteen aughts], Schulte never made any noise except when his bat spoke and a ball landed in one of Chicago’s streets.
...
One of the Cubs who was a strong booster for Schulte called him aside on an afternoon after he had lifted a home and remarked: “Say, Frank, you’d hit .400 every year if you didn’t appear to be asleep at the plate.”

“Don’t worry about that,” Schulte drolled. “Many a groove ball I get from pitchers who think I’m taking a nap up there.”

It’s safe to say I’d have been a huge Wildfire Schulte fan if I’d been born 100 years earlier.

On the labor relations front, the Montreal team in the International League threatens to ban its players from joining the Baseball Players’ Fraternity while the AFL considers the Fraternity’s application for membership.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: January 25, 2017 at 12:10 PM | 15 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

Just a Few Words About Jake Daubert

The forgotten MVP, few players were easier to root for than Jake Daubert.

gehrig97 Posted: January 25, 2017 at 11:41 AM | 5 comment(s)
  Beats: dodgers, history, jake daubert, most valuable player

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 1-24-2017

Bridgeport Evening Farmer, January 24, 1917:

Albert (Reb) Russell, a pitcher with the Chicago Americans, has signed a 1917 contract. Russell is the twenty-first member of the club to come to terms. “Talk of a strike is not worrying me,” Charles Comiskey said. “I am having no trouble in signing my players.”

Meanwhile, the Marshalltown (Iowa) Times-Republican reports that Shano Collins, the White Sox representative to the players’ fraternity, sent a letter to a teammate talking about ice skating and his baby, but mentioning nothing about a strike.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: January 24, 2017 at 12:49 PM | 8 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

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